TALK REPLACES PADDLE AT TRAINING SCHOOL
St Petersburg Independent March 30, 1970
Excerpts: Pictures of whip & paddle at bottom
Group therapy has replaced the hard leather paddle at the Arthur G. Dozier Boy's Training School.
It's not a pancreatic, this group thing, says superintendent Lenox Williams. "We know it's the best tool available to
us, and will use it until something better comes along."
Three years ago the school was described by a federal official as one of the worst juvenile institutions in the
country. Williams later came under attack from their supervisor, who tried to fire him but was blocked in a
administrative battle with the Career Service Commission.
"Changes since then been plentiful," Williams said in an interview. "There's enthusiasm here both in the staff and
kids like there never was before." As an example, he said the first three months of last year produced 124
runaways among the children confined at the school. In the first three months of this years they were only 13. The
school staff now is attempting to make discipline a function of the group therapy. The 500 boys at the school have
been divided into 50 groups, which meet one hour each day, five days a week.
The theory of the treatment is that they will propose the problems that cause members to become delinquent, and
leave the boys to trust each other and to teach them to be responsible. End Excerpts
Note: Opinion: R. Straley & R. Kiser
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When I read this my immediate reaction was, if they did away with the beatings why did not more boys run? After
all, the punishment for running was 100 lashes at the time I was there,(63-64). The change from 124 runaways to
13 was after the whips and paddle were discontinued. I talked to Roger Kiser and he gave me a realistic
explanation which I agree with:
Roger: "Many boys ran from fear that they would, at some point, be beaten. Some ran because they had seen
something they shouldn't and ran for fear they would be killed. Many ran to get away from the climate of fear that
permeated the facility.
So, if the handful of men who handed out these brutal beatings were taken out of the picture, the Florida School
For Boys would have been an entirely different place as the article above suggests. Compassion and love
overpowers hate and evil. The beatings were never necessary. The facility was touted as a place that "the worst of
the worst" were sent, yet there was no fencing to contain these dangerous boys.
I did see some boys who truly were bad and should have been sent to ACI or Raiford, but the vast majority were
there for lesser crimes than robbery and assault. Most were there for being deemed incorrigible, skipping school,
breaking and entering, car theft, vandalism, running away from homes and juvenile facilities. Many were orphans
who were sent there when they came to a certain age. Many never went before a judge but were simply
transported to FSB. The vast majority could have been reformed with a little compassion and programs as the
above mentioned, which, seemed to have worked, according to the stated numbers. Flogging the boys for 68
years was the wrong approach and ruined uncountable lives.
O.J. Keller with whip and paddle banned in 1968 by Governor Kirk Fl. State Archives
The whip is a flogging tool used on the boys for 68 years.
Artist rendering of a slave being beaten. Note the paddle is the same
as the one used at Dozier, holes for maximum pain. Another example
of a torture device.
"Spanking paddle invented to beat slaves" by Anti-slavery Office
in Boston, Massachusetts, in 1845. Licensed under PD-US via